Blue skies and balmy temperatures
greeted the new era at Monmouth Park Saturday, as the track opened its 67th
season of Thoroughbred racing with increases in attendance and wagering over
This was the first day of racing
under the auspices of Darby Development LLC, which manages the racetrack for
the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The NJTHA negotiated a
five-year lease from the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority to
operate Monmouth Park.
“We’ve exceeded all expectations,”
said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development. “Our business is based on
handle, and to see on-track and simulcast increases over last year is a great
“We’ll continue to work hard to
bring about the necessary changes here at Monmouth, changes that not only will
boost our handle, but enhance the overall racing experience for on-track and
simulcast patrons. Today was a great start to what we hope is a new and bright
future for Thoroughbred racing in the Garden State,” Kulina said.
Saturday’s attendance of 12,008 was
an increase of nearly 11 percent over last year, when 10,847 were on hand.
All-sources wagering on Monmouth’s
12-race card hit $4,768,956 a 5.2 percent gain over 2011, when $4,534829 was
bet. The live handle saw an even bigger jump as $764,125 was bet on
Saturday, a nine percent gain from the $700,796 wagered a year ago.
Saturday was the first of 65 racing
days at Monmouth, with the season running through Oct. 7. There will be 10 days
of turf racing at the Meadowlands. Two days have already been run there, and
the final eight days will be run from Oct. 12 through Nov. 3.
The first feature of the 2012 season
was the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes, which was marred by a spill on the far turn
involving five of the eight starters. John Koenig’s Ponzi Scheme led the three
finishers home, beating Flat Bold by nearly three lengths. Soaring Stocks was
All five of the horses involved in
the incident came back to the barn uninjured, suffering only superficial cuts
and bruises. The riders likewise escaped serious injury. Only one, Angel Serpa,
was taken to the Monmouth Medical Center for precautionary X-rays of his right
Elvis Trujillo, Monmouth’s leading
rider the past two years, got off to a fast start for his third straight crown
as he won four races, including the feature. Trujillo took the fourth race on
Raro ($6.80), the sixth on Final Forest ($5.40) and the seventh on Busted Again
Trujillo came back in the 10th
race to take the Decathlon Stakes aboard Ponzi Scheme, who ran the six furlongs
in 1:10 flat over a fast track. The Juan Serey-trained son of Sunday Break paid
$27.20, $10.80 and $5 across the board and topped the exacta worth $175.80.
Flat Bold paid $5.20 and $3 to place and Soaring Stocks was $4.20 to
Zero Rate Policy, who was the leader
on the backstretch, fell near the half-mile pole, and Nathan’s HQ fell over
him. Congressional Page and Bank Merger lost their riders, but kept their feet.
Wildcat Brief returned with jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. aboard after going to the
outside fence to escape the spill.